by Chralotte L. Wirfs
For Isaac King, 25, and his younger brothers, Amos and Solomon, the trip to Oregon must have been one of adventure. Hunting game along the trail was one form of recreation for these young men and although the emigrants did not rely on the meats that these jaunts provided, it was nice to have an occasional rabbit stew if time could be fund to cook it properly.
Isaac was born November 23, 1819, in Madison County, Ohio. He was married at Kings Valley by Isaac Wesley Staats of Polk County to Almeda Jane Vanbebber on March 22, 1847, and they settled on a claim in August of that year. Located in Kings Valley, their claim bordered that of Almeda's parents, Lazarus and Martha Vanbebber. The Vanbebbers were born in Tennessee and traveled from Illinois, where Almeda was born about 1831, to Oregon in 1846.
Nothing remains of the Isaac King Donation Land Claim except an old orchard and a few footings where the barn once stood. A small graveyard located on an oak knoll overlooks the farmstead and Isaac rests there with his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Ellen, and an infant names, Lillie Zumwalt.
The death of Isaac King remains a myster. The Daily Herald, of Portland, reported that Isaac became "...tired of life and blew his brains out with a pistol..." The Corvallis Gazette, Dec. 8, 1866, disclaimed the report and stated that neighbors and friends believed Isaac "...came to his death by an accidental discharge of a pistol in his own hands..." Another report survives today in the oral history of Kings Valley. Residents there give varying accounts of the murser of Isaac King, by membrs of his immediate family.
Through it all these facts remain. Following a hunting trip with his sons, his wife found Isaac shot to death in his barn. The ball had entered under the chin and came out of the top of his head, leaving this thick beard without powder burns. Three loads remained in his pistol, but all the caps had been snapped. He died on his 37th birthday leaving a wife and eight children: Alfred, Samuel, Stephen, Eleanor, Olive, Hollis, U.S. Grant and Melvina.
His widow, Almeda, married Andrew Jackson Zumwalt in Corvallis on April 30, 1868 and had four more children: Sarah Jane, Lilly May, George Henry, and Addie. She died about April 1890 and is buried beside her parents in Kings Valley Pioneer Cemetery. A lilac bush and a metal marker labeled Almeda King are her only memorials.
Next: Melinda Fuller and Amos King